Ad Age’s annual 40 Under 40 feature is coming up. Ahead of its publication on Oct. 5, we are asking former honorees questions about topics in the news, including how they are dealing with the coronavirus. Don’t forget to nominate your own rising stars for this year’s list ahead of the Aug. 5 deadline. You can do so here.
Ryan Robertson, innovation director and head of multicultural marketing for liquor giant Diageo, appeared on Ad Age’s 40 Under 40 list in 2019. While only a year has gone by, a ton has changed. The pandemic has significantly altered booze marketing, and the nationwide protests demanding racial equality have put corporate diversity efforts under the spotlight. Below, Robertson addresses those topics and more.
What’s been the biggest change in your role due to the pandemic?
We have had the challenge of finding new, unique and fresh ways to meaningfully engage consumers in the virtual realm. We’ve had to also consider the long-term implications and opportunities that the pandemic will have on the future of celebration, given this is certainly our “new normal” for some time.
What must the marketing industry do to hire and promote more people of color?
Companies must set distinct, specific and measurable targets for people of color at every level. And do it swiftly. Giving people of color a seat at the table means prioritizing ethnically diverse representation at the most senior levels (C-suite, boards, senior leadership, etc).
Lastly, organizations must hold themselves accountable by tracking and communicating regular progress against this agenda to the organization, and beyond.